The Chanel Legacy

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The Chanel Legacy

Published: Fri 29 Jun 2018, 6:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 Jun 2018, 8:00 PM

If you were at the Mall of the Emirates last weekend, your gaze couldn't have escaped the queue outside the Chanel store. You had to wait for literally half an hour to enter. Reason? The French luxury brand had a sale, and though it was only on accessories (not on handbags, mostly on shoes), you could have well concluded that they were giving away things for free. That was the extent of the excitement around the store. Just a few days ago, Chanel had spoken about its annual results for the first time in over 100 years and it is close to a staggering $10 billion. To put that in perspective, Gucci stood at $7 billion in 2017. And so, there is no denying that Chanel is a "super" luxury brand.
Much of the conversation around the brand also revolves around its founder Coco Chanel. A vibrant personality, there are always quotable quotes from Coco Chanel that one is tempted to revisit. My personal favourite - "Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity."
Helming the brand today is Karl Lagerfeld. Though he never tells his age, it is believed he is 84. The iconic designer has ensured that Chanel remains a trendsetter all the while paying homage to Coco Chanel's designs (be it the tweed jacket, camellia brooches or that quilted handbag). Though he is one of the most feted designers of our time (he has his own eponymous line and has also been with Fendi), he still remains an enigma. I have met him backstage twice - once at a Chanel cruise show and then at a Chanel Métiers d'Art Show. He can come across as being imposing yet charismatic.
In a way, he is a natural fit for Chanel. On the other hand, however, are the Wertheimers, who own the brand, and yet very little is known of them. The brothers - Alain and Gérard Wertheimer - have owned the brand for well over three decades. Back in the 80s, they'd asked Lagerfeld to come in and help resurrect the brand. They often come to Chanel shows but never sit in the front row. Their presence usually goes unnoticed. The two brothers are the grandsons of Pierre Wertheimer, an early investor and a business partner of Coco Chanel. The Wertheimers believe in keeping the spotlight on the legacy of Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld. There is something so elegant about this - it reminds you that there is nothing more chic than someone who has achieved everything and is yet humble and quiet about it. This, for me, has been yet another reason to love Chanel - it's about true elegance inside out!

By Sujata Assomull

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